This week, readers had more questions about road maintenance and a query about Benton’s Greenhouse.
Q: I know you can go to the Hutch city website and ask for an alley to be graded. Is the city grading dirt alleys on a schedule like the city streets are resurfaced on a schedule? Also, some asphalt alleys need to have some attention. Are those alleys on a resurface schedule?
Short answer, alleys are not on a regular improvement schedule. Alley work is done on a request basis, so report a concern at https://www.hutchgov.com/556/Street or call (620) 694-1900.
“If there’s a problem with an alley, we’ll go out there and evaluate what can be done,” said Kreg Luman, Hutchinson’s superintendent of streets.
With fewer employees to complete the work, and not enough funding to cover the cost, the street department has to be strategic about how roadways are repaired.
“Over a period of years, personnel dropped, so up to about two decades ago, alleys were done more regularly because we had more people and equipment available,” Luman said.
Keep in mind, the department is focused on serving the community, Luman said. Often that means prioritizing problems while considering the community on the whole.
“It costs just as much to do something to those alleys as it does to a city street, so the funding available is used for city streets,” he said. “We can patch the alleys, but there’s no funding available to resurface or repave an alley.”
Also, note that everyone has a different idea of what a rough road looks like. A very bumpy spot and an impassable spot are different things, so the department has to consider requests on a consistent scale that may differ from a resident’s perception of the problem.
“Some people may call in if there’s a hole that holds water in it and they can’t drive through without getting muddy. That’s different from being impassible,” Luman said.
Your alley may have a rough spot, but someone else’s may be much worse and take priority.
“We spend a lot of time and effort to meet all those standards. Instead of going through the city putting out fires – meeting requests – we’re trying to find a program for meeting those requests in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.
Q: Are there any plans to repave Panorama Drive and if so when? I ask this because it seems like the city is chasing their tails trying to keep up with the number of potholes on Panorama. At first, they were using their normal procedures for patching, and when that failed, they resorted to concrete.
Short answer: not this year. Panorama Drive is not on the street department’s list for work this year.
“Panorama used to be a dirt street. It’s a milling street so it had recycled asphalt put on the street back in the day, and there was no tax assessment put on the property owners there. It was paid for by the city,” Luman said. “Those typically have a shorter lifespan. We’re doing our best to keep it up and there will be a time when we chip seal it, but it hasn’t been selected for this year.”
And a quick word about roadwork terminology. A chip seal is done on all residential streets, not paving.
The last repaved residential street was near 33rd Avenue and Severance Street in 2012. Chip sealing is less expensive than repaving, and it protects the street at the same condition it was in when it was covered.
And a note about potholes: this year has seen an outbreak of road troubles nationwide – a pothole pandemic, if you will.
Road surfaces take a beating when drastic weather changes sweep through. Street departments across the U.S. are prioritizing resources to patch what they can. In the winter, hot asphalt is not available so departments can use cold asphalt as well as concrete, which is far more durable but takes more time.
Keep in mind, the street around a pothole patch still ages and breaks down, so when departments patch a hole, they’re also taking note of what areas will need more attention later.
“Every community has been trying to handle it as best we can. We have a lot of problems we have to get done before June,” Luman said.
In June, a contractor will come in to complete chip seal work on several streets.
Q: What happened to Benton’s Greenhouse in South Hutch? I was given a gift certificate and drove there April 1 to use it, but a sign on the door says they are closed with no intention of opening this spring. Are they gone for good?
Benton’s Greenhouse, 209 S. Valley Pride Road, Hutchinson, will not be open this spring. But there is some good news about your gift certificate.
“Unfortunately, the Benton’s Greenhouse location in South Hutchinson will not be open this spring as it is currently up for sale. For readers who have gift certificates, the greenhouse on Edgemore in North Newton will honor all Benton’s gift certificates issued in 2018,” said Jennifer Gronau, Benton’s Greenhouse owner.
The greenhouse address is 2311 Edgemore, North Newton.
Keep those questions coming by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.